5am and it’s the only time I can get to myself

What a strange week it’s been.  It’s almost been a week since I resigned from my job.

I woke this morning at 4:30am, after a terrible sleep with a 3 yr old next to me, kicking, pushing, whining… I woke with the thought ringing in my head…’It wasn’t the job’.

It wasn’t the job, it wasn’t the job, it wasn’t the job.  I still feel terrible.  I feel worse at this end of the week now that the job has gone.  Now on top of fatigue, I am dealing with sadness and disappointment.  For one brief minute or so after I made it happen, I felt excited at the prospect of having more time to write and pursue a writing career.  That’s how long it lasted.  60 seconds maybe in a week of tiredness and upset.

The days are long and terrible and I am drowning in my own life.  The people around me can see it, but don’t know it’s happening.  I’m drowning right in front of them and they are waving back to me happily.  ‘Helloooo, I’m here if you need any help’ they sing cheerfully.  I NEED HELP!  I scream back at them but nothing comes out.  That’s how the dreams are anyway.

I spend a fair amount of time surrounded by people who are too wrapped up in their own lives to see mine.  It’s not their fault, it’s not that they are seeing and choosing not to help, they are just not seeing.

I can’t really blame my three-year old.  Her tyranny over me is enveloping and complete.  I can not move without creating disaster.  Even deciding at 5am to get out of the bed she’s occupying most of, filled me with dread.  What if she wakes up and I’m not there?  She’s going to lose it!!  Again…

Yesterday she cried in a cafe for 20 minutes, wailing and sobbing because her Dad cut her toast in half.  Last Monday, she spent the good part of an hour screaming at me, berating me for opening her lunch before I moved her table into the correct position.  She is equal parts tyrant and manipulator.  If she doesn’t reach the extreme of crying, she sulks and talks to herself and her teddy, consoling herself with my bad behaviour.  ‘Mummy said she’d come over here but she hasn’t…. no teddy, she hasn’t….and she won’t, awwwww’.

She has not one single shred of empathy and doesn’t understand what I am going through.  And I don’t want her to either.  I hope this will pass and be a distant memory for me one day, and I don’t want being sick to get into her psyche.

I used to have a different life.  When she was only just little, I’d make sure I’d have a small amount of time for myself.  My aunty would come over on Wednesday afternoons and I’d plan something like a coffee, massage or beach walk and those times were golden.  Some nights I’d even go out to an event like an engagement party or drinks and it’d be fun.  Then I went back to work and I had less time for me and less energy to go out, but I still managed it.  She was only about 16 months when I can remember being up with her in the night for hours soothing and settling by the cot and then off to work a full day, tired but fine.  I would not be able to do that these days, and I can’t explain how bad it makes me feel, how sick to my stomach, to wake up and feel like I don’t know how I’m going to get through the day on my own with her.  All I ever wanted – to spend time with her – learning and growing together, has now become a chore.  I feel like I have aged 30 years and am a 70-year-old trying to raise a 3-year-old.

What is the reason this happened?  In my research, looking for other people recovered or coping with this situation, many blame emotional overload in their lives.  Are we just looking for an answer or something to make sense to us?  Like looking for human emotions in a dog’s face, it makes it easier to understand when we can label it.

I remember last June, about 10 months ago, we went on a holiday that I had been really looking forward to.  It was going to be a wonderful relaxing break with time to myself and space for my own happiness to grow.  In reality it was torture.  I was trapped by the 2 people I was with in different ways – my daughter and her father – I felt similar to how I feel now, unnoticed, unable to effect any pleasure for myself, inconsequential, the reason it was all wrong and when I returned to a cold, rainy day, tired from the experience and the overnight flight, I felt like everything had changed.  From then on it seemed like all sorts of minor and major horrors descended on me.  I got every cold or flu going around, as did my daughter.  A colleague at work, went home one day and didn’t come back for 3 months.  He had been someone with whom I could have a laugh, and the resulting lack of support at work lead to financial failure.  I realised from that holiday that life as a family was not ever possible with us three.  I was being routinely tested for breast cancer when the doctor found something he didn’t like the look of and months later they decided was just a polyp.  I learnt that someone I knew, had taken the life of his own child, him the same age as me and his child about the same age as my daughter.  All of this had a profound and shattering effect on what I thought my life was, and was about.

I tried another holiday in October with different people but again priorities and needs clashed and I vowed not to holiday again until my daughter was older.  By the time I was brought down with Parvovirus in December, I would have to say I was pretty much on the edge and then I just never got better and here we are.  Lost my job, losing my relationship with my daughter, cementing the feeling that I don’t matter anywhere to anyone.  Could this be rock bottom?  I hope it doesn’t get any worse from here.  I gave up my job so I could feel better, and I suppose because I would have had to eventually.  Managing people is hard to do when you’re not actually there.

I wonder if in 20-years time people presenting to the doctor with this syndrome will be given a tablet to fix it?  So little is known about why we feel this way and what causes it, and because of that people suffer more because our goal driven society says ‘You’re tired?  Try harder’.

I have spent some time recently reading both books by Alain De Botton and Andrew Solomon’s ‘Far from the tree’ and what I read helps.  De Botton talks about how success and failure can not be judged simply by merits and you must understand that fate and randomness play a part in people’s success and failure.  And although I’ve only just begun reading Solomon, his discussion on whether or not an effect on your body is an illness or an identity reverberates with me now.   I don’t want PVF to become my identity, however I am identifying with people who have suffered it and while I hope one day to shuffle it off and have it be a dark time in my life, I do expect I will never forget the feeling of isolation that an ‘illness’ brings with it.

Child is awake and upset now.  Best go.

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